A diet that mimics fasting may reduce the risk factors for aging and age-related diseases, findings of a small study have revealed.

Fasting-Mimicking Diet

The diet known as fasting-mimicking diet, or FMD, in essence tricks the body into thinking it is fasting sans actually being deprived of food.

The diet involves reducing the caloric intake for five days a month. For the first day, you eat 1,100 calories which is followed by only about 750 calories for the next four days before going back to normal eating.

Gerontologist Valter Longo, from the University of Southern California, said that based on animal studies, the diet helps the organs remove damaged cells and replace them with more functional system organ cells.

Effective At Reducing Risk Factors For Aging And Age-Related Diseases

In the new study, Longo and colleagues assigned participants to a group who would get fasting-mimicking diet, and a control group.

Those in the FMD group had a prescribed food group for five days a month over a three-month period. Their diet, which was consist mostly of soups and vegetable, was low in sugar and protein but high in unsaturated fat.

The researchers found that adopting the diet for a period of three months resulted in improvements in metabolic markers linked to aging and diseases such as the levels of glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol. They also found that levels of C-reactive protein, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and insulin-like growth factor 1, or IGF-1, linked to spread of cancer went down. Researchers likewise found weight loss effects as as those in the diet group lost an average of 5.7 pounds.

The research, which was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine on Feb.15, also found that those with poor baseline levels of these age and disease markers were found to have the most improvements.

"Cycles of a 5-day FMD are safe, feasible, and effective in reducing markers/risk factors for aging and age-related diseases," Longo and colleagues wrote in their study. "Larger studies in patients with diagnosed diseases or selected on the basis of risk factors are warranted to confirm the effect of the FMD on disease prevention and treatment."

Not For Everyone

Joseph Antoun, CEO of L-Nutra, Inc., the company that offers FMD, said that the diet is aimed for use by those who want to optimize their health and wellbeing, those with weight problems who want an easy and healthy way to manage their weight, and individuals who have abnormal levels of biomarkers for aging and age-related conditions.

Antoun recommended those planning to use FMD to seek approval from a doctor. Despite its benefits, the diet is not for everyone. It is not recommended for children below 18 years old, those with nut or soy allergies, as well as pregnant or nursing women.

Those with liver or kidney disorders may also be negatively impacted by the low protein and glucose content of the diet. The diet should not also be used along with glucose lowering drugs such as insulin or metformin.

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